Andrew Parker

28 Small Towns Across America Deemed Most Perilous, Places to Avoid at All Costs

When you think of small towns in America, you probably think of some beautiful places where a sense of community is most important. And you’d be right! But, not all small towns fit this image for several reasons, including high crime rates. Today, we’re looking at 28 of these dangerous towns and cities and what makes them so bad.

Darlington, South Carolina

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At first glance, Darlington has a vibe that’ll make you feel right at home. Its streets are lined with history, and the air is filled with the buzz of community events. However, there’s a catch. The town has a bit of a property crime problem that’s continuing to rise. Sure, you can plan a chill evening out here, but don’t be surprised if when you come back, your stuff’s been taken!

Hartsville, South Carolina

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Like Darlington, Hartsville is another charming South Carolina town that’s also got a reputation for people taking your stuff. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have much else to make it stand out from the crowd. It’s a pretty standard slice of South Carolina life, just without the peace of mind when you lock your door at night.

Osceola, Arkansas

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This small town is probably most famous for being at the heart of the blues scene, and you can see this musical history everywhere you go. There’s no time better to experience this than during the annual Osceola Heritage MusicFest. Sadly, it also suffers from a high property crime rate, which will leave you feeling a bit offkey.

Marksville, Louisiana

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If you’re a history fan, Marksville might seem like the perfect town for you. After all, it’s got plenty of ancient sites and gorgeous natural spots that’ll fill your mind with tales of the past. But this charm fades a bit when you realize you might need to keep an eye on the rearview mirror. The high violent and property crime rates make it better suited for a quick visit than a permanent place to live.

Ocean City, Maryland

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A town with endless beaches and classic boardwalk adventures couldn’t be that bad, right? Wrong. There are quite a few clouds over Ocean City’s sunny picture. You might come back from a day of waves to find your peace of mind washed away by a break-in. They say this is a place where memories are made, and that’s true, but not all of them are good ones.

Florida City, Florida

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Florida City is definitely a beautiful place, with its natural beauty showing the wonders of the Everglades and the Florida Keys. Yes, it’s in a great location, but this is a bit of a trick. While you’re out exploring paradise, there’s a huge chance that your welcome mat might be a bit too inviting for the wrong reasons and the wrong crowd.

Glendale, Colorado

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Ah, Glendale. It’s got all the sights of Colorado, just without the hustle of Denver. It’s a tempting choice for anyone who wants a taste of the suburbs with a hint of the urban. But sadly, moving here might mean your belongings don’t stay put! Unless you’ve got the security system of a fortress, the cons of living here outweigh the pros.

Sauk Village, Illinois

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Sauk Village in Illinois has the vibes of a small town that’s near a big city, but it comes with an unwelcome test. Forget worrying about missing lawn ornament because this town has violent crime rates that put it on the map for all the wrong reasons. You’ll need to be on high alert just to grab a gallon of milk!

Dillon, South Carolina

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Dillon is another South Carolina town with a raging violent crime issue. The biggest concerns here are robbery and assault, although the number of property crimes is also rising. Living here means always being on your toes, and leaving your house alone for too long becomes an invitation for trouble. It’s a real shame because these crime issues completely overshadow this small town’s charm and history.

Opa Locka, Florida

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Unfortunately for Opa Locka, it’s a town that’s well-known for its high crime rates, including violent crimes and gang activity. The town’s struggles with poverty and unemployment have made these challenges even worse by creating a cycle of issues. The people who live here have some hope for a turnaround, but there’s no sign of it coming anytime soon.

Ecorse, Michigan

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Ecorse is one of Michigan’s most dangerous small towns, with its high crime rates, poverty, and unemployment. The biggest of these issues are robbery and assault. Along with these issues are the economic struggles that are forcing the town’s residents to fight just to make ends meet. It’s a sad reality that’s hidden behind headlines and statistics.

Highland Park, Michigan

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Like Ecorse, Highland Park is also suffering from a mix of poverty and high crime rates, with most of these people committing property crimes. But there’s more to it than that. The town has a history and character that people have built over the decades that still manages to shine through, even with these challenges. Hopefully, there’ll be some brighter days ahead.

College Park, Georgia

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In this college town, the biggest crime issues are involving robbery and rape, along with drug-related crimes. The poverty rate here was 18.1% in 2022, which is higher than the whole of Georgia at 12.17. Even having higher education institutions in the area isn’t enough to disguise the harsh realities of living here.

Lake City, Florida

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Lake City might be a popular tourist spot, but it also has many violent crimes, like murder and robbery. It’s pretty easy to forget all of that when you see just how beautiful it is here! Both visitors and residents are drawn to this area because of its charm, but they’ve also got to deal with the safety concerns.

Barstow, California

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In the Mojave Desert, Barstow has high violent and property crime rates that are made worse by struggles with poverty and unemployment. It’s also a place that works like a crossroad for travelers, which doesn’t help its rising crime rates. The desert might look inviting, but it seems like the wrong people are answering the call.

Selma, Alabama

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This town is easily one of the most historically important ones on this list. Sadly, that’s not enough to stop the criminals, as in 2016, the state was ranked as the most dangerous place in the state. But even with these challenges, the city’s rich civil rights history gives the residents a sense of pride and hope that things will change.

Americus, Georgia

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On the surface, Americus might seem peaceful, but its high violent and property crime rates tell a different story. It’s a town where there’s a clear contrast between its peaceful streets and crime issues. Even so, it’s clear that the people here are warm and welcoming, which could turn things around.

Cocoa, Florida

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Cocoa is a hotspot for travelers, mostly because it’s so close to Cape Canaveral, but the biggest landmark here is the number of crimes. The violent crime rate is 194% higher than the national average. It’s a place where your excitement about space exploration and the beauty of Florida’s coast collides with the realities of living in a high-crime area.

Inkster, Michigan

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Many people think of Inkster as one of America’s most dangerous small towns and for a good reason. The people here are dealing with high unemployment and drug issues, which causes the amount of violent crime to soar. There are clear challenges, but there’s also a lot of determination to overcome them.

Gallup, New Mexico

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Gallup is another city that’s known for its culture and tourism, especially because of its Native American art scene. Unfortunately, its struggles with safety make it one of New Mexico’s most dangerous places. In 2022, there was an average of 829.1 violent crime incidents in Gallup, while the national average was 219.8.

Jackson, Mississippi

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Jackson, Mississippi, is a mix of both Southern charm and high crime. It’s a place where history and modern struggles meet to make a town with a very unique cultural experience! People come to Jackson for the music and food, but they might find themselves leaving with more than they brought with them.

Utqiagvik, Alaska

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Utqiagvik is way up north, where the weather throws just about everything it’s got at you. But the real test comes from its isolation and the difficulties in policing such a remote place. The cops have limited access to resources and support, which makes maintaining law and order even harder.

Thomson, Illinois

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Thomson might seem peaceful, but when you see the maximum-security federal prison, you’ll soon realize there’s a shadow of crime across this community. This prison has completely changed the way people see this city and the residents’ sense of security. There’s an obvious contrast between Thomson’s peaceful appearance and nail-biting tension.

West Memphis, Arkansas

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West Memphis is infamous for its rising crime rates, and the local community is constantly trying to seem welcoming to any outsiders who dare to visit. Their goal is to balance small-town charm with the realities of violent crime and safety concerns. Unfortunately, it seems to be a losing battle.

Alexandria, Louisiana

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There’s no denying that Alexandria is a pretty place. After all, have you seen those bayous? Sadly, not everything is so peaceful here, as the high crime rates have forced the townspeople to fight for their safety. It’s one of the most dangerous cities in the state because of the high number of shootings here.

East St. Louis, Illinois

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In East St. Louis, crime rates have folks on edge, but the people are trying to push back against this to bring the community closer. They want to make their home a place where future generations can live without fear through programs like the Violent Crime Initiative. Only time will tell if they’ll actually be successful.

Anniston, Alabam

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Anniston is surrounded by the kind of natural beauty that’ll make anyone want to settle down, but it’s got a dark side you just can’t ignore. The people here are constantly worrying about what might happen next since its crime rate is 172.2% higher than the national average. This means you have a 1 in 20 chance of being the victim of a violent crime here.

Camden, New Jersey

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Lastly, we have Camden, which is nothing like the city of the same name in England. It has a history of violent crime, although this rate has declined over the last few years. In 2012, the FBI ranked it #1 as the city with the worst violent crime rates in America. On a positive note, it fell to #14 in the 2022 rankings.

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